I am a design historian interested in technology and identity, in both physical and digital forms. I completed my AHRC-funded PhD dissertation on the representation of electrical technology in 1920s Ireland at the University of Brighton, which was published in 2017 by Irish Academic Press. I have previously taught design history at IADT, Dun Laoghaire, and am also a Senior Lecturer in Design History & Theory at Kingston University, London. I am interested in broad issues surrounding technology and identity in design, whether digital or analogue. With a background in industrial and digital design, I am interested in issues surrounding the design of computers and networked devices at work and in the home, critical design and the creation of online and filmic worlds, as well as the pedagogy involved in using digital technology in education.
I am currently an AHRC Early Career Leadership Fellow, through Kingston University, working on a research project on the introduction of electrical products into the Irish home in the wake of rural electrification in the 1950s and 1960s, in partnership with the National Museum of Ireland. Although domestic electric products were seen as modernising technologies in many other countries, this project uses object analysis, archival research and oral history to consider to what extent these meanings held in the Republic of Ireland.
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O'Brien, Sorcha (2017) 'Made in Ireland'? National narratives and hybrid identities in Irish design history. Writing Visual Culture, 8. Available: http://www.herts.ac.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/187573/8_OBRIEN_MADE_IN_IRELAND_WVC8_2017_Final.pdf
O'Brien, Sorcha (2014) Review of The Story of Design. Journal of Design History, 27(4), pp. 413-414.
O'Brien, Sorcha (2011) Exhibition Review of: 'The moderns: the arts in Ireland from the 1900s to the 1970s' at The Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin. Artefact(5), pp. 83-89.
O'Brien, Sorcha (2017) Powering the Nation: Images of the Shannon Scheme and Electricity in Ireland. Newbridge: Irish Academic Press.
Edwards, Clive; O'Brien, Sorcha; Atkinson, Harriet; Kettley, Sarah; Bhagat, Dipti; Raizman, David and Willis, Anne-Marie, eds. (2015) Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of Design. London: Bloomsbury Academic.
Moran, Anna and O'Brien, Sorcha, eds. (2014) Love Objects: Emotion, Design and Material Culture. London: Bloomsbury.
O'Brien, Sorcha (2016) Bouroullec, Ronan (1971–) and Erwan (1976–). in: Edwards, Clive, (ed.) Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of Design. London: Bloomsbury Academic. pp. 184.
O'Brien, Sorcha (2016) Dunne & Raby (Dunne, Anthony 1964–; Raby, Fiona 1963–). in: Edwards, Clive, (ed.) Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of Design. London: Bloomsbury Academic. pp. 444-445.
O'Brien, Sorcha (2016) Guixé, Martí (1964–). in: Edwards, Clive, (ed.) Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of Design. London: Bloomsbury Academic. pp. 124.
O'Brien, Sorcha (2016) Heatherwick, Thomas (1970–). in: Edwards, Clive, (ed.) Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of Design. London: Bloomsbury Academic. pp. 139.
O'Brien, Sorcha and Chesters, Robert (2016) Jongerius, Hella (1963-). in: Edwards, Clive, (ed.) Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of Design. London: Bloomsbury Academic. pp. 262.
O'Brien, Sorcha (2016) Rittel, Horst (1930–90). in: Edwards, Clive, (ed.) Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of Design. London: Bloomsbury Academic. pp. 163-164.
O'Brien, Sorcha (2011) Technology and modernity: the Shannon Scheme and visions of national progress. in: King, Linda and Sisson, Elaine, (eds.) Ireland, Design and Visual Culture: Negotiating Modernity, 1922-1992. Cork: Cork University Press. pp. 59-71.
O'Brien, Sorcha (2009) Images of Ardnacrusha: Photography, Electrical Technology, and Modernity in the Irish Free State. in: Flannery, Eoin and Griffin, Michael, (eds.) Ireland in Focus: film, photography, and popular culture. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press. pp. 71-85.
O'Brien, Sorcha (2009) Photographic connections: electrical technology in the making of Ireland in the 1920s. in: Glynne, Jonathan , Hackney, Fiona and Minton, Viv, (eds.) Networks of Design: Proceedings of the 2008 Annual International Conference of the Design History Society (UK): University College Falmouth 3-6 September. Boca Raton, FL: Universal Publishers. pp. 246-253.
‘MUJI: A study of nation, international and corporate identity’ in Nicola Gordon Bowe (ed.) Thought Lines: An Anthology of Student Research, Dublin: National College of Art & Design, 1998